By washing the feet of his apostles, Jesus offers them one of his last practical lessons in apostleship: service. As this particular act goes hand in hand with the institution of the Eucharist, it also gets endorsed by the command, ‘Do this in my memory’. The tradition of washing the feet of 12 persons on this day is more than a dramatization of what Jesus did at the last supper. It is to be a response to the command of humble service.
Priesthood, then is seen not merely as means of sharing love and the sacrament, but that of service too. A priest, by his very consecration, is called to love and serve. He is called to do it with and for a divine purpose, much higher than mere human respect and feelings. Unless this divine dimension is perceived by those whom we serve, we fail in our mission as apostles.
To be true to one’s vocation of priesthood is to be true men of prayer and service. These two dimensions are not to be seen as different or one following the other. They are so intertwined that one flows into the other. Jesus, even in his last moments on earth, shows how deeply these two aspects are inter-related while in the Upper room.